| Places to Stay | Kinugawa Plaza Hotel

Remember our trip to the semi-abandoned "angry demon river" in Japan? We wrote about it HERE if you need a reminder.

We thought we would show you where we actually stayed.

The Kinugawa Plaza Hotel must have made all the right impressions when it 1st opened its doors to the public, decades ago. Today, it is down at heel and rather unloved. The sliding doors are torn, the tatami worn, the ensuite bathrooms are dated and there were chips and dents in every piece of furniture in our room.  

Yet, despite its list of tattiness, we would not change a single thing about our stay in this curious place. What the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel gave us was an insight into a multi faceted part of Japanese domestic tourism that is hauntingly unforgettable in so many ways.

We've said before that the Kinugawa is one of the strangest places that we've ever visited, and the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel only added to peculiar experience. To sum our feelings briefly, it felt like we were in a part time warp, part music box alternate universe version of Japan.

Our room was positioned in a part of the hotel that dominated a bend in the river so we were presented with a commanding view of the river and beyond. Though our room was on the tired side, it was large and we had our own bathroom and small lounge area. Everytime we stepped out of our room, we were greeted with the tinny music box theme tunes to Winnie the Pooh or some random Japanese cartoon theme tune.

Dinner was served in our room. It was okay, nothing to complain about but nothing to rejoice over either. 

We paid extra for a private deluxe hot spring bath which meant that we had to hop onto a coach after dinner and head into the forests.

For a large hotel with 160 rooms and a host of hot spring facilities, it was so quiet during the day and evenings. So quiet in fact that we thought the hotel semi empty. We had quite a shock in the morning when we encountered hundreds of other guests at breakfast. 

On check out the next morning. I was secretly expecting to hear a wealth of complaints but not a single one was to be heard. Instead, everyone looked genuinely happy and well rested. As for us, we left feeling like we had momentarily stepped into a different world for a couple of days. Somewhere that we cannot seem to shake off yet. Not that we want to mind you! (Every time our thoughts stray back to our time here, the Winnie the Pooh theme tune starts up in the back of our minds). 

The cost:

With the exchange rate at the time, we paid £114.00 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast and our outdoor bath experience. On arrival we were given a little hamper with a washing net, hairbrush and hand towel for use at the bath. Also we had use of a yukata, jacket and slippers. The only additional cost was our alcoholic drinks.

We personally found this expensive when compared with our stay at Daimonjoya in Yamagata (see HERE) in terms of quality and value for money. 

USEFUL LINKS |Kinugawa Plaza Hotel (Japanese)|How to get to Kinugawa Onsen


  1. Your pictures are incredible! This place sounds intriguing, it certainly looks secluding but I guess it was nice to be by yourself? :)

    Danniella x


  2. The view was beautiful and alone that is something very special.

    I get the feeling this place had many happy visitors over the years. It seems owners may have become tired, the hotel dated and yet the visitors still leave feeling happy and warm because the good intentions are there.

  3. I love the odd-ness (creepyness even?) especially the music box music and the degraded empty hotel yet full of guests, another reason to love Japan! Your meal looked amazing even if it wasn't super impressive taste wise

  4. What an unusual but utterly fascinating experience. Reading about your adventures in the time warp of Kinugawa Onsen has been one of my favourite things on your blog in all of the time I've been following along, and it's an experience I would love to have myself, tatty accomodations and all. I sometimes enjoy places they are worn and lived in, or simply run down from neglect. As long as they are tidy, their stories are so much more interesting than those of their newer, more polished counterparts.

  5. Sometimes there is something strangely transporting about places that have not moved on from a particular - even comparatively recent - time period. And the Winnie the Poo music: surreal.
    The private hot spring bath in a forest looks very inviting.

  6. This is so true Rosalind. Particularly in this case. It was very surreal.

  7. It may be a little worn, but the view is amazing!! The spring bath would definitely be where I would be found :))) x

  8. this place does seem like a fitting place to stay while you were exploring kinugawa. i love that everyone loved their stay.. i suspect those were folks who are able to see beauty and comfort in every little nook and cranny.

  9. Oh Cee. I am so happy that you have been following and enjoying our stories in Kinugawa Onsen. It's such a fascinating place. We have one more curious post coming in this mini series - hope you will like that too!

  10. It is a very curious part of Japan Fiona. I think you would like it?

  11. Oh it was so perfectly appropriate for our adventures here. I slept so well too - I think I was so emotionally caught up in the vibe that it drained me. Strange no?

  12. Thank you Danni! Hiro take most of our photos - I am not very good with his camera :) It was a very curious place in deed!


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